Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mansfield Park, Revisited: All The World's a Stage

Expected Publication:  February 26th, 2013
The Trouble With Flirting
By: Claire LaZebnik
ISBN-13:  9780061921278

Franny's supposed to be working this summer, not flirting. But you can't blame her when guys like Alex and Harry are around. . . .

Franny Pearson never dreamed she'd be attending the prestigious Mansfield Summer Theater Program. And she's not, exactly. She's working for her aunt, the resident costume designer. But sewing her fingers to the bone does give her an opportunity to spend time with her crush, Alex Braverman. If only he were as taken with the girl hemming his trousers as he is with his new leading lady.

When Harry Cartwright, a notorious flirt, shows more than a friendly interest in Franny, she figures it can't hurt to have a little fun. But as their breezy romance grows more complicated, can Franny keep pretending that Harry is just a carefree fling? And why is Alex suddenly giving her those deep, meaningful looks? In this charming tale of mixed messages and romantic near-misses, one thing is clear: Flirting might be more trouble than Franny ever expected.

     Franny Pearson dreamed of being an actor when she was younger, but when she entered high school her parents pushed her to give it up and focus on sports.  But now with a messed up arm, baseball is no longer part of the equation.  Due to bad financial circumstances since her parents' divorce, Franny is forced to get a summer job to start saving for college.  So her Mom sends her to be her seamstress Aunt's apprentice for the summer, working on costumes for the Mansfield College summer theater program.  But sewing isn't the only thing taking up her time and occupying her mind.  Franny is soon torn between Harry Cartwright, a notorious flirt who seems to be all superficial and Alex Braverman, who is always switching between hot and cold (plus he's in a relationship with Harry's friend Isabelle).  Will Franny end up with the boy of her dreams?  And will he be who she expects?  I loved this book quite a lot.  LaZebnik has a talent with Jane Austen re-tellings and this one, as her second, fared even better than the first one in my opinion.  I am a freak of nature among the majority of Austen fans whose favorite novel is usually Pride and Prejudice.  Mine is tied between Mansfield Park and Persuasion.  So when I saw this book on an ARC tour site, I was dying to see how she'd manage to make it at ALL swoonworthy, when the original just barely manages that in any capacity.  I liked that the author developed Franny and lent her a few obvious to the reader character flaws, lacking in the original novel.  Franny is rather shallow at the beginning (not that she realizes this), but she develops a lot by the end.  I also like Isabelle, her sometimes rival, more than in the original book.  She was portrayed more human and sympathetic in this one, at least for me personally.  Julia and Marie were just as horrid in this retelling as in Austen's novel, which was okay with me.  I was impressed with the romantic plot twist near the end.  Did not see it coming AT ALL (though I probably should have).  Overall, really loved this Austen retelling.  I think that even people who are not fans of the original Mansfield Park will enjoy this one.  The theater setting was a very nice idea and it lent something important to the novel overall.  I found it especially funny, as theater was not something that was considered an activity for those in polite society back in the time of the original novel.  They even attempt to stage a play and are scolded by Mr. Price (Edmund's Dad and Fanny's Uncle) when he comes home and finds the girls involved.  My main complaint is that the ARC cut off mid-sentence and seemed to be missing the last few pages.  As a reader, that sucked.   
VERDICT:  4.5/5  Stars
*I received this book as part of Around the World ARC Tours, run by the lovely Princess Bookie. No favors or money were exchanged for this review. It will be available for purchase on February 26th, 2013.*

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